Today, organizers of two decades-old free summer concert series in Coney Island and East Flatbush cut the power ahead of the 2017 season.
The Seaside Summer Concert Series in Coney Island and the Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series at Wingate Field in East Flatbush won’t be holding concerts this year, organizers of the non-profit wrote on Facebook.
“After over thirty years of free concerts in the summer, the Seaside Summer Concert Series and the Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series will not be presenting any shows in the 2017 season,” the message stated.
This news comes only a day after the New York Daily News reported that American Express is suing concert organizers for $36,000 in unpaid credit card fees.
It’s unclear whether the lawsuit is the cause of the series’ closure. Calls to the venue were not immediately returned on Friday, but we will continue to follow this story as it develops.
The Seaside series — long supported by former Borough President Marty Markowitz — has been running for almost 40 years, drawing stars like John Legend, Joan Jett, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, regularly attracting crowds of more than 10,000 fans.
The concert series has a storied past. It was long held at Asser-Levy Park but moved to West 21st Street in 2011 after controversial plans to build an amphitheater at the park’s location spurred lawsuits that enforced sound laws. In 2014, the series went on a one-year hiatus following the departure of term-limited Borough President Marty Markowitz, but re-opened the next year, hosted by Eric Adams.
Last summer, the venue found a permanent home in the newly opened Ford Amphitheater, which just barely passed building inspections to make it in time for opening night. (Note the Amphitheater is still hosting summer concerts that aren’t affiliated with the free Seaside series.)
Commenters responded to the sudden closure with sadness and nostalgia for the days when Marty Markowitz was the series’ cheerleader.
“The end of an era — these kept me coming back to Brooklyn in the summer for great music. Marty Markowitz, you are missed!” said one commenter.
Others echoed the loss for the community.
“I’ve loved those shows for years. This really does a disservice to a community who doesn’t make a lot of money and looks forward to these shows… Please think about revisiting this in 2018,” said another commenter.
We reached out to Adam’s office, which couldn’t confirm details regarding the series’ closure since it’s organized by Seaside, but did offer this response:
“I am vigorously working to identify and secure an organizer that can make free performances happen this summer in our communities,” said Boro President Eric Adams in a statement. “As I have shared in the past, the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President has no control over either concert series; they have been run by independent non-profit organizations that determined the number of shows each year and who would perform in those shows.”
Updated 7/10, Comment from Council Member Mark Treyger “Ensuring that our community has access to free, quality entertainment has been a priority of mine, and, with the assistance of New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, I have already secured funding to support concerts in Coney Island this summer. However, I have no direct control over the concerts, which are produced by an independent non-profit organization. Unfortunately, as has become clear, the prior non-profit organizer of the Seaside Summer Concert Series lacks the capacity to continue putting on the free public events that were guaranteed as part of building the Ford Amphitheater. I am working diligently with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, City Hall, EDC, and the proprietors of the Amphitheater to secure a new organizer and a sustainable model to ensure that residents have the free, live entertainment that they deserve, this summer and in summers to come.”